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New book features Farmington history

Farmington’s historic Great Fire of 1879 is at the center of a new book released in late October. 

“Mama Rose’s Turn: The True Story of America’s Most Notorious Stage Mother” chronicles the life of Rose Thompson Hovick, mother to burlesque entertainer Gypsy Rose Lee, and actress June Havoc.Carolyn Quinn has released "Mama Rose's Turn: The Story of America's Most Notorious Stage Mother." Part of her tale evolves in F

Memoires by Gypsy Rose Lee and June Havoc paint their mother as a tenacious, domineering stage mother, but author Carolyn Quinn of Brooklyn, NY, begs to differ.

In 2008, Quinn began researching the family, in hopes of shedding new light on who Rose Thompson Hovick really was.

During the course of her research, Quinn ran across a reference to Farmington. In tracing Rose’s lineage, Quinn found Rose Thompson Hovick’s mother, Anna Egle. Anna Egle was the daughter of Mary Louise Herber Egle Stein and Lawrence Egle. And Lawrence Egle was one of Farmington’s early settlers. He was a member of Farmington’s first Hook and Ladder Company, named first assistant foreman when the fire company was formed in 1873.

Quinn started to see similarities between the lifestyle Rose Thompson Hovick led as a child while her family lived in Farmington, and the lifestyle she imposed upon her own daughters. She learned about that lifestyle through reading more than 200 articles she received from Rebecca Snyder at the Dakota County Historical Society.

“It really shed some light onto who Rose was and where she came from,” Quinn said.

Quinn’s research put her in contact with sources throughout the country, from New York to Seattle, and even into Canada. In Minnesota alone, she’s traced the Hovick family through Farmington, Hastings and Hopkins.

But all of that is behind her now. Now, she’s a published author, and enjoying every minute of it.

Her book’s target release date was Nov. 1, but she found the book had been posted on Amazon and Barnes & Noble’s websites about a week before that. In fact, she happened to walk into the Barnes & Noble bookstore she usually frequents while her book was being set out on shelves.

“It was kind of cool. It was like something from a movie,” she said. “It’s been fun, from start to finish... I’m having a wonderful time.”

On Nov. 1, Quinn held her first book signing at a Barnes & Noble in Manhattan, near where she works. She’s done a number of interviews, as well.

Quinn hopes to come to Minnesota in the spring to do a book signing or two in Dakota County. More importantly, she’s very interested in coming to Farmington and seeing where the story of Rose Thompson Hovick all began.

Michelle Leonard

Michelle Leonard joined the Woodbury Bulletin staff in November, 2014, after 14 years covering news for the Bulletin's sister publication, the Farmington Rosemount Independent Town Pages.  Michelle earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications: News-Editorial from Mankato State University in 1991. She is an active member of the American Legion Auxiliary Clifford Larson Unit 189 of Farmington, and served as the 2014-15 Third District President to the American Legion Auxiliary Department of Minnesota. Michelle is also the volunteer coordinator for the Minnesota Newspaper Museum which is open annually during the Minnesota State Fair. She has earned Minnesota Newspaper Association awards in Investigative Reporting, Local News Coverage, Feature Photography and Column Writing. 

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